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How to Choose an Acoustic Guitar

Acoustic Guitars are fairly simple, but there's still a few things to decide between. 

For starters, acoustic guitars come

in two main styles: 

  • Steel String

  • Nylon String (or Classical)

In general, the same songs can be played whether you're playing a Steel String or a Nylon String but there will be some differences in both sound and feeling. 

Image by Annie Spratt
Image by Luana Azevedo
Abstract Marbles

Steel String

Nylon String

  • Harder Strings

  • Smaller Frets

  • Louder/Harsher

  • Usually Has Pickup*

  • More Common

  • Softer Strings

  • Bigger Frets

  • Quieter/Softer

  • Sometimes No Pickup* 

  • Less Common

* A pickup allows you to plug your guitar into an amplifier or sound system.

* These are generally the differences you'll find, but not always.

The Difference

For some, a guitar with bigger frets may feel somewhat harder to play than one with smaller frets because of the extra distance your hand will have to stretch while someone with larger hands may actually prefer bigger frets! Harder strings may cause slightly more finger pain for a beginner, but finger pain is unavoidable for a guitar player. 

After you've played long enough, fret size and string feel won't be as much of a factor as your hands should get used to either one with time.

Musical Style

The next thing to consider is what type of music you plan on playing. Like I mentioned previously, you can play most any style on either type of guitar, but, here are the genres best suited for each guitar.

Steel String

Nylon String

  • Rock

  • Folk

  • Pop

  • Country

  • Blues

  • Classical

  • Flamenco

  • Jazz

  • Latin

  • Spanish


Again. This isn't a rule set in stone. If you want to play Classical songs on your steel string guitar no one is stopping you. 

Here are some good examples of this: 

Metal on a Nylon String:

Classical on a Steel String:

Choosing a guitar partially comes down to personal preference. Being able to play and compare them in person is always the best, but sometimes that's not possible or you might not even know what to look for when doing so. 

Click either Steel or Nylon to see a list of guitars I recommend.

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